Let’s be honest, it was bound to happen sooner rather than later. Four months after JRR Tolkien‘s estate settled a lawsuit with Warner Bros. Studios regarding the profits from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Amazon Studios has announced a multi-season LOTR television series is in the works exclusively for the company’s streaming service. The series will reportedly cover stories from Tolkien’s early writings, focusing on material pre-dating the events in the book and film trilogies.
Amazon acquired the rights to the series for a whopping $200 million, but the series is expected to cost a further $150 million in production costs per season. Given the popularity of the content, however, expenses don’t seem to be a cause for concern. A rep for Amazon was quoted in a statement as saying, “The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen. We are honored to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.” Continue reading →
Writer, director, and lead actor Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, Red Tails)’s The Birth of a Nation is now playing in theaters across the country, but not in the light the young filmmaker was hoping for. The film struggled to reach $7 million in domestic box office sales in its opening weekend. Several factors could have contributed to the surprising low, but the most likely cause of the low turn out is Parker’s 1999 rape allegations during his time at Penn State. Although Parker was exonerated, news that his alleged victim committed suicide in 2012 and his handling of the case back in 1999 have caused a great controversy that has women’s rights and sexual assault advocate groups shouting boycott all across the country.
While Parker’s film may be controversial in its own right, the original Birth of a Nation, which was a silent movie released in 1915, was just as controversial, if not more so. The original Birth of a Nation is remembered for its blatantly racial undertones and simultaneous impressive contributions to filmmaking. Continue reading →
This Friday, July 3rd, will mark the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future, the time-traveling hit from director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Flight) that made Michael J. Fox (Family Ties, Casualties of War) an instant superstar and became an instant classic in American cinema. Co-written by Zemeckis and screenwriter Bob Gale (1941, Used Cars), Back to the Future was a huge hit among fans and critics alike, receiving an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing/Effects and another 3 nominations for Best Screenplay, Best Sound, and Best Music (Original Song); Huey Lewis even received a Grammy in 1986 for The Power of Love, which he wrote specifically for the film’s soundtrack. I think many fans would agree that Christopher Lloyd (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Angels in the Outfield) deserved a nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but that aside Back to the Future proved a great success. Since 1985 the film has been followed by two sequels, and although Zemeckis has said that a remake is definitely not happening, he is currently working to adapt the movie into a new musical due out in the next year or two. Either way, I’m sure there will be no shortage of marathons on TV this weekend, but if you happen to have your own copy be sure to watch Back to the Future this weekend to celebrate the anniversary…and Independence Day too!!
The new biographical drama about the relationship between Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane, titled The Theory of Everything, can now be seen in limited release in a theater near you. Adapted by screenwriter Anthony McCarten from the novel Travelling to Infinity by Jane Hawking, the film is a dramatic depiction of the couple’s 30-year relationship, beginning in the early years and following along as they have children and as Hawking’s physical health deteriorates as the result of his battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The film stars Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn, Les Miserables) and Felicity Jones (The Invisible Woman, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Stephen and Jane Hawking and is directed by James Marsh (The King, Shadow Dancer). According to Hawking the film is mostly on par with the reality of their lives, give or take a few minute details and the actual amiability of their relationship, but as I mentioned before you won’t be able to find it in every theater in the area. Here are a few theaters in the Chicago area that are showing the movie:
AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois Street)
Landmark Century Centre Cinema (2828 N. Clark Street)
Century 12 Evanston (1715 Maple Avenue)
New Line Cinema is currently filling out the cast members for their upcoming reboot of the classic National Lampoon’s Vacation, and some big names are starting to fill those empty cast slots. The new film will be directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who will also take on the writing responsibilities for the film, and will follow now-grown-up Rusty Griswold as he takes his young family on a new vacation adventure. Thus far the cast consists of Ed Helms (The Office, The Hangover) in the role of Rusty, Leslie Mann (Knocked Up, This Is 40) as Audrey Griswold, Christina Applegate, Chris Hemsworth, Charlie Day, and special appearances by both Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, who reprise their roles as Clark and Ellen from the original Lampoon classic. While I anticipate that Applegate will be playing the role of Rusty’s wife, Leslie Mann’s Audrey will apparently be married to Chris Hemsworth’s character, anchorman Stone Crandall, but the plot details are still lacking at this point in the production, so we’ll have to keep an eye out for clarification on that. Stay tuned.
Taking a break from his writing and directing responsibilities, Quentin Tarantino has announced that he will be be taking over programming for the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. Tarantino already owns the theater, but until now the programming has been the responsibility of Michael Torgan, the son of theater founder Sherman Torgan. The New Beverly is famous for its reputation of playing original prints of old films in a double-feature format. Tarantino stated that he intends to maintain the tradition of the theater, playing only 35 millimeter films from his own personal collection (that includes Sergio Leone’s “Man-With-No-Name” trilogy with Clint Eastwood), but the filmmaker will also feature his own classic films like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Death Proof, Inglorious Bastards, and Django Unchained. Tarantino is still preparing to begin filming his upcoming western The Crazy Eight after the original script he had written was leaked on the internet when he provided several copies of it to friends in the business for feedback, but for the next few months he will be focused on his own personal vision for the theater’s schedule. If you are a resident of Los Angeles you should definitely check it out.
Since his release from prison for tax evasion in April 2013, Wesley Snipes has been keeping a low profile on the Hollywood scene. Snipes had passively expressed interest in revamping his breakthrough vampire role, Blade, after the disappointment of Blade: Trinity (2004), but it hasn’t seemed like it’s something that he is really pushing. Just recently, however, the New York Daily News reported that Snipes is definitely set to appear in Blade 4 and that he will receive a $3 million paycheck, plus a certain percentage of the gross. While this is exciting news, the chances of it being true are relatively slim. The problem with making another Blade movie is that the rights to the films are still held by Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, while the rights to the character have gone to Marvel (in the wake of the new comic-book era of film), which is owned by Disney. And the last time Walt Disney Pictures released a movie that had an R-rating attached to it was….oh yeah, never! I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be cool to see another Blade movie with Snipes reprising the role, but I also can’t imagine Disney selling the character rights in a time when comic-book movies with Marvel characters are the biggest money-makers in the industry. But we’ll wait and see. Maybe there is a chance that it will happen, but I’d also like to know the source the NY Daily News is quoting as well. Stay tuned.
With The Expendables 3 now in theaters, many are wondering what the next step will be for the all-star cast of should-be-retired muscle heads, and it may include some help from everybody’s favorite martial artist! Jackie Chan had been approached to make an appearance in Expendables 2 and 3, but due to scheduling conflicts he was not able to get the days off required to shoot his scenes for the films. But Sylvester Stallone seems pretty set on getting Chan involved in the next installment, which means we have another Expendables to look forward to (lucky us?). Anyway, The Expendables is not the only sequel that Chan has been approached to make either. Apparently there are still efforts coming out of New Line Cinema for Chan to reunite with Chris Tucker for Rush Hour 4, but Chan is not very interested in a fourth movie. He is currently working on an upcoming project titled Skip Trace with co-star Sean William Scott (American Pie, Road Trip) from director Renny Harlin about an American gambler who teams up with a Hong Kong detective in a face-off against a Chinese gang-lord. Personally I agree with Chan about a fourth Rush Hour sequel. We all saw what happened with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. After that catastrophe I think leaving well-enough alone is a perfectly acceptable option for a lot of Hollywood projects right now. But if they’re going to go and make a fourth Expendables, Jackie Chan might as well be in it…they already have every other old man in Hollywood making appearances in those movies anyway, one more wouldn’t hurt right?
The Coen Brothers rarely fail to produce an excellent movie, so it’s no surprise they’ve been able to acquire the star-power they always provide in their films, including George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, Oscar Issac, Frances McDormand, Tom Hanks, and Brad Pitt. Now Clooney will be leading the cast of their next project titled Hail, Caesar!, which has Josh Brolin set to co-star with Clooney and actors Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum joining the cast as well. The story follows Eddie Mannix, a “fixer” in 1950s Hollywood who is responsible for protecting the reputations of Hollywood stars during the Golden Age of cinema. The brothers are writing and directing the new comedy, which is still in early production, so we’ll keep an eye out for more news on this one.
Director Rawson Marshall Thurber delivered a smash comedy hit last year with We’re The Millers, starring Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston. The movie made over $250 million worldwide and now New Line Cinema has a sequel in the works and screenwriter Adam Sztykiel has been hired to writer the project. Sztykiel’s track record includes the comedies Made of Honor (2008) and Due Date (2010) with Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. No word yet on when the movie will be ready or scheduled for release.